Minh Thong, age 32, of Denver, Colorado, was sentenced Tuesday, December 15, 2015 by Judge Robert E. Blackburn to serve 292 months (over 24 years) in federal prison for the production of child pornography, United States Attorney John Walsh and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge David Thompson announced. Following his prison term, Thong was ordered to serve 15 years on supervised release. The defendant, who appeared at the hearing in custody, was remanded at its conclusion.
Thong was first charged by Criminal Complaint on January 20, 2014. He was then indicted by a federal grand jury on January 27, 2014. He pled guilty before Judge Blackburn on August 14, 2015.
Thong was identified through Operation Round Table, an extensive international investigation conducted by ICE HSI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). According to court records in Colorado, including the affidavit in support of the original criminal complaint as well as the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, on July 10, 2013, an HSI special agent in Seattle, while functioning in an undercover capacity, used the internet to connect to a Peer to Peer file sharing program (a/k/a FSP). The special agent was able to download child pornography from a specific person using a specific username at a unique IP address. The agent was not only able to download child pornography, the agent was also able to view thumbnail images before choosing which images or videos to download.
Further investigation revealed that the IP address resolved at an address in Denver, and was registered to Minh Thong. A federal search warrant for Thong’s residence was then obtained and executed. HSI found child pornography on Thong’s computer. Thong obtained child pornography from others using Peer to Peer software. He also produced child pornography by accessing video chat websites where individuals can see each other using a web cam. Thong used a program to play a video of a minor female so that the minor person on the other end of the web cam chat believed they were chatting with another minor. During those chats Thong used the video of the minor female, who undressed and fondled herself during the video, to convince users on the other end of the chats to disrobe and/or masturbate. He recorded the video chats and saved the files. Based on the computer forensic examination and additional investigation, there are at least 100 victims depicted in the child pornography videos created by Thong. Thus far, there is no evidence that Thong distributed the child pornography that he produced. Numerous minor victims have been identified during the course of the investigation. The identified victims ranged in age from 12 years old to 16 years old at the time the videos were created.
“The defendant in this case went far beyond viewing and possessing child pornography; he actively manipulated minors through lies and deceit to produce it for him,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Minh Thong victimized over 100 children young people and is facing the stern consequences for his crimes.”
“This predator used his position as a popular skateboard photographer to prey on his teen-age victims to produce child pornography,” said HSI Denver Special agent in charge David A. Thompson. “Due to the egregious nature of his crime as a producer of child pornography, the court sentenced him to serve a significant federal prison term of more than 24 years. HSI has a dedicated program to investigate these crimes, pursue prosecution against these predators, and rescue their child victims.” This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Thong was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alecia Riewerts.